REVIEW: Hairspray, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until January 30

Hairspray is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.
Hairspray is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.
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I can’t think of a better way to shake off those January blues.

You can’t help but smile as chubby underdog Tracy Turnblad (Freya Sutton) defies all the odds to dance her way onto The Corny Collins Show.

Hairspray is bright, bold and laughs in the face of adversity.

Set in 1960s Baltimore, it follows Tracy as she chases stardom, acceptance for who she is, and the boy of her dreams, Link Larkin (Ashley Gilmour).

The TVs may be black and white, but the dancers on them aren’t, and the show also sees Tracy fighting to have the show integrated so her new friends, including Seaweed (Dex Lee) can join her.

Sutton is fabulous as Tracy. You’re instantly on her side and the audience wants her to achieve her dream as much as she does. She has a really powerful voice, and her personality is just as big. She’s hilarious as she swoons over Link during number I Can Hear The Bells and loses control as he sings It Takes Two.

Hairspray is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Hairspray is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Another fantastic performance came from Sutton alongside best friend Penny (Monique Young), rival Amber Von Tussle (Lauren Stroud) and their mothers with Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now.

The role of Tracy’s mum Edna is traditionally played by a man, and Tony Maudsley gave a fantastic performance. His deep, raspy voice alone provided lots of laughs.

His performance of You’re Timeless To Me with on-stage husband Wilbur (Peter Duncan) absolutely melted my heart. The song is all about true love and still being crazy for your other half as they get old, fat, and bald. The pair made it a real stand-out moment in the show.

Claire Sweeney takes on the dastardly role of station producer Velma Von Tussle and really embraces it. She got a lot of laughs as she ran out into the front row of the audience and demanded people stopped cheering during the big finale.

Hairspray tells us that it’s okay to be different, and that if we have a dream, no matter how crazy it seems, we all stand – and deserve – a chance.

While the set is a little plain and underwhelming, the bright costumes and exuberant performances more than made up for it.

Ensemble members Layton Williams – who you may recognise as Stephen from BBC Three’s Bad Education – and Glen Facey really stood out as they flipped and somersaulted across the stage.

Aiesha Pease, playing Motormouth Maybelle, really packed a punch with her rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been. The crowd showered her in admiration as she belted out the emotional number.

Hairspray tells us that it’s okay to be different, and that if we have a dream, no matter how crazy it seems, we all stand – and deserve – a chance.

Hairspray is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Hairspray is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

It’s one of my favourite ever musicals and this performance is simply joyous. You won’t be able to help but smile, sway and tap your feet.

Hairspray runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, January 30. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp